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Needing Engineering laptop

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
July 2, 2010 6:33:21 PM

I am stating as a mechanical engineering major this fall and will need a laptop by the spring semester that can run MS Office, MATHLAB, Mathcad and Autocad SIMULTANEOUSLY...Autocad may not HAVE to be operating while the others are, but it is suggested. I don't care about screen size, but would like actual battery life of at least 1.5hrs under sustained high load. I am a desktop builder, so i need some help with laptop suggestions. I would really like to keep the price as low as possible and don't think i can afford more than $1000. I do like to partake in (REALLY) light gaming on my laptop:
AMD Turion TL-56 1.8GHz
2MB DDR2 667MHz
Radeon Xpress 1100
Windows Vista

If my current laptop is sufficient for the tasks needed (which i doubt), I have no problems continuing using it.

I would just do it on my desktop, but the department requires that i have a laptop capable of running the programs in the classroom.

Many thanks for your help.
a c 207 D Laptop
July 2, 2010 8:22:01 PM

The laptop you have probably won't handle all those applications, even if you upgrade the RAM. Your video card is also a bit low for Autocad.

Try IdeaPad Z560 Laptop - 09143BU, just under 1k, and Lenovo/IBMs have always had gread build quality.
July 4, 2010 1:14:15 AM

thanks for the reply, but 1k is the absolute MAX I am willing to spend since i am attending expensive school, working, paying rent, buying textbooks, etc, etc (I am married, not just a student, but a married student who must work and trim expenses where possible)

1_What is your budget?
up to $1K, preferably less than $800

2_What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?
doesn't matter so long as it performs and has a screen...

3_What screen resolution do you want?
probably 1366x768 minimum

4_Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?
I suppose more of a desktop replacement for my engineering work

5_How much battery life do you need?
At least 1.5hrs under moderate load

6_Do you want to play games with your laptop? If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low,Medium or High)?
Yes, some. Probably some SC2, maybe FF XIV (but will probably keep this on desktop to keep price down for laptop graphics), Heroes of Newerth, Torchlight, and maybe some FPS, but i have a 360 for those if i really want to do so. I am fine with low settings, though medium would be nice.

7_What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo / Video editing,watching movies, Etc.)
Autocad, Mathcad, MATHLAB, MS Office ALL Simultaneously...and watching some movies and minor video editing

8_How much storage (H.D.D Capacity) do you need?
at least 250GB

9_If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links. (my company has a partnership with them and i get a small employee discount -something like 5-7%-)

10_How long do you want to keep your laptop?
at least 3yrs (hopefully i will be finished, i am just doing major specific work)

11_What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?
Just a DVD ROM is all that i truly need

12_Please tell us about the brands that you prefer to buy from them and the brands that you don't like and explain the reasons.
...uh, I like AMD for their price/performance ratio in desktop processors, but like i said earlier, I am more unfamiliar with laptops and I am not ruling out Intel

13_What country do you live in?

14_Please tell us any additional information if needed.
Though I am a student and will have to lug it around, i am not worried about weight as I am a former offensive lineman ;) 
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July 4, 2010 1:18:11 AM

I suppose i should also say, the cheaper the better so long as it does not affect the quality of the machine (by which i mean poor craftsmanship).
July 4, 2010 2:50:22 AM

or, perhaps more to the point, is the i3-350m worth spending $20 more than the phenom ii p620 for my purposes.
a c 207 D Laptop
July 6, 2010 1:40:07 PM

The CPU in your case is really secondary, you want to look at max RAM (probably 4gig) and a non-intergrated video card (no Intel for example).
July 9, 2010 4:28:03 PM

would it be feasible for the programs to all run on something with a 5430 as the gpu and perhaps a dual-core netbook cpu? I am really just trying to keep costs to a minimum while getting what i need and not paying for more. For gaming i have a desktop and a 360 and i found out today that i do not HAVE to actually use autocad while in class on the laptop (but it would be "Handy"), so i can use my desktop and/or lab computers (or the ones that are in some classrooms) for autocad if needed.

by the way, many thanks hang-the-9 for your guidance on this matter.
a c 207 D Laptop
July 9, 2010 5:24:53 PM

I would not go for a netbook. The laptop you have now will be probably faster. All of the programs you are running require large screens to be usable, even if you don't need to run autocad on it.

If you want to keep costs down, try this. Max out your laptop with RAM, probably 4 gig. If your laptop has a SATA hard drive, see if you can swing the cost of a new SSD, that will make a big jump in performace with your same hardware. If not, see if you can get a new regular drive, 7200 rpm maybe, I do think they make laptop drives with that speed. Should be almost 1/2 the cost of the SSD, but be quite a bit faster than your older drive.

Try your stuff on that, if you find issues, then look for another system.